Where are the Addicks and Barker Dams and Reservoirs?

Addicks Reservoir is situated on the north side of Interstate 10 with State Highway 6 bisecting the reservoir north to south. Barker Reservoir is situated on the south side of Interstate 10 and west of State Highway 6. Both reservoirs are approximately 17 miles from downtown Houston.

When were the Addicks and Barker Dams constructed?

Construction of the Addicks and Barker was completed in 1948. These features were part of an overall larger flood damage reduction plan that included the creation of two diversion canals as well as creation of a reservoir on White Oak Bayou. Construction of the dams and reservoirs was initiated as a result of catastrophic floods that covered downtown Houston in 1929 and 1935. Houston experienced loss of life and huge property loss during these events. Congress funded the construction of the dams and reservoirs, but the remaining flood damage reduction features were never constructed. At the time they were built, Addicks and Barker dams and reservoirs cost just over $10 million.

What is the purpose for the two dams and reservoirs?

The purpose of the dams and reservoirs has always been to minimize flood damage downstream. The dams retain water generated from rainfall runoff upstream in the upper Buffalo Bayou Watershed in the reservoirs. This water is then released slowly to Buffalo Bayou through gates in the dams when the risk of downstream flooding is past. Under normal conditions when there is no threat of flooding downstream, the dams are set to allow the unimpeded flow of water down Buffalo Bayou.

How have the dams and reservoirs served our area?

Since 1948, the dams have prevented flood damages estimated to be in excess of $5.6 billion. More importantly, countless lives have been saved, historical treasures have been preserved, and Houston has become a thriving metropolitan area – the fourth largest in the nation.

Why are you giving us this information now?

As part of the Corps’ Dam Safety Program, we are raising awareness nationwide about the risks of living near dams and levees. With Addicks and Barker being newly designated as “extremely high risk” dams, we felt it important to remind those that are familiar with these facilities as well as to inform newcomers to our area that there is always a risk of flooding.